Community Based Planning in Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, Practical Action has worked to develop an approach of ‘community based planning’. Community based planning is a process of producing plans that can be designed, implemented, managed and maintained by local communities. This process empowers local communities to voice their opinions and strengthen skills and confidence to participate in development interventions. Community based planning seeks to include vulnerable and excluded groups within the community as well as leaders to ensure inclusive involvement in the planning of initiatives with the help of local NGOs. Within this approach it is necessary for communities to identify their own problems as well as taking a lead in reviewing, reflecting and organising events to share lessons and discuss options. Most importantly, communities should have a sense of ownership of these initiatives to ensure that they are sustainable and long lasting.
Community based planning draws on ‘training for transformation’ methodology which is rooted in participatory learning for local action, and challenges traditional ‘expert led’ methods. Our experience over the years demonstrates that training for transformation is an indispensable tool in enhancing the impact of economic empowerment, team building and improved leadership skills for communities.
Training for Transformation is a critical tool with which local leaders and emerging local drivers build confidence and recognise their responsibilities in mitigating the multi-dimensional impacts of poverty and injustice. The training facilitates a broader understanding of how existing and emerging leaders can develop skills, knowledge and a network of relationships to work together. In Zimbabwe this approach has worked well and had been used in numerous projects, including our disaster risk reduction work. Throughout, it is important to plan for turnover of leadership, to ensure sustainability.